Column: Quality training helps people want to do better

Vision helped me see complete success in my mind’s eye first.

Ed Saxton

Ed Saxton

Using mindset, I let go of the past and focused 100 percent on what I could control.

With grit, I determined to take action and persevere until I succeeded. – Scott Burrows

Annually, the Minnesota School Board Association organizes a leadership conference to serve the needs of its members. School boards from all over the state of Minnesota gather to gain additional knowledge designed to enhance educational leadership. There are several break out sessions and keynote speakers.

This year, the opening speaker was Scott Burrows and his presentation was extremely moving. A quick look at his website finds words such as: transforming, inspiring and genuine. All of the terms do describe him well, but attending the session was truly inspiring.

His theme and the central focus of the speech revolved around goal setting. Words he referenced effectively were: vision, mindset and grit. Scott Burrows delivers several messages within a session and these messages have universal appeal. If this piques your curiosity, a web search could yield additional information on his vision.

This particular presentation was one part of a much bigger picture involving professional development. Often, the term professional development encompasses everything from online research, to classes taken from instructors, to a myriad of other options. The point is: quality conferences are important to the members of the organization. The Minnesota School Board Association is aware of the importance of gathering members together to learn and grow.

In our school district, we have a similar philosophy regarding the importance of professional development. It is an area all districts attempt to keep relevant, useful and engaging. On occasion, organizations will review and redirect efforts to improve professional development for their employees. This practice is a productive investment of planning time.

Additional training is not unique to school systems. Every business could benefit from a program to increase morale, knowledge, techniques and more. After a training session, participants ask this question, “Have I just invested some time, or did I just spend some time?”

The answer reflects the success of the program offered.

Investing time – with professional development – indicates expected changes that will improve the “workplace.” People leave quality sessions with a desire to better themselves as productive and effective citizens. Spending time – on the other hand – implies that of the time used, little is expected.

After a training, attendees generally fill out an evaluation form that allows for critical review of the efficacy of the session. Comments may vary widely, but if a common thread unfolds, it can be extremely useful for future planning for an organization. It is worth the time spent to evaluate. “There goes a day I’ll never get back,” or, “I can’t wait to implement these ideas.” Oddly enough, these could come from two people in the same session. Identifying the thread is what is important.

The session on Jan. 16, hosted by the Minnesota School Board Association, brought Scott Burrows to Minneapolis to deliver a message about goal setting. For some, this was professional development; for others, personal development; for me, it was both. Several hundred people, affiliated with education, were granted an opportunity to experience an excellent presentation. Well done, Minnesota School Board Association.

Ed Saxton is the superintendent of the St. Francis Independent School District.

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